Showing posts with label Boljoon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boljoon. Show all posts

Monday, October 04, 2010

Cebu: Heritage churches of Southern Cebu

I found myself visiting again the heritage churches of Southern Cebu. There are quite a lot actually. So from Cebu City, my class proceeded down south to explore the heritage of Southern Cebu. If you were to choose seven churches, here is the suggested route.

We first stopped at the San Fernando Church (San Isidro Labrador Church) which is built in the Gothic style and completed in 1886.

After San Fernando, we drove to Sibonga Church (Nuestra Senora del Pilar Church) also built in the Gothic style and completed in 1881. It was the town fiesta and there were a lot of people visiting the church. We got to try the torta and pinyato which were both being sold outside the church for just Php5 each!

Then we drove all the way down to the Oslob Church (Inmaculada Concepcion Church) built in the Neo-Classical style and completed in 1847. This church was gutted by fire in 2008 because the parish priest left his modem running while he was out which is not a good idea in a centuries-old structure. The modem overheated and the rest was history. There used to be a really beautiful convento with a clay tile roof right beside the church. But that's gone now. Such a pity!

It's actually had a history of fires. It was burned by Filipino guerillas in 1942. And again, the whole complex got burned in 1955. But what's important is that they restored the church every time it burned. In fact, they're restoring the church again now. I wonder if they'll reconstruct the convento though.

From Oslob, we drove back north to Boljoon Church (Patrocinio de Maria Church) which is both a National Cultural Treasure and a National Historical Landmark. The first church was probably destroyed during the Muslim raid of 1782. Work on the current church, which is built in the Rococo style, began in 1783.

From Boljoon, we visited the Dalaguete Church (San Guillermo de Aquitania Church), also built in the Rococo style and completed in 1825. It's one of the best-preserved churches in Cebu and a National Historical Landmark. Just remember that Dalaguete is pronounced by locals as dalaget.

Argao Church (San Miguel Arcangel Church) was our next stop. It's a National Historical Landmark. I'm sure you've heard the horrible thing one of its previous parish priests did to the church retablo. He painted the exquisite polychrome wooden retablo with gold and silver latex paint making it the biggest trophy case in the country! This church is also constructed in the Rococo style.

Finally, we visited the Carcar Church (Santa Catalina Church), built in the Graeco-Roman style with strong Muslim influence, and completed in 1875. There are more churches to visit in Southern Cebu. These churches featured are from the southeastern side of the island. I'm actually looking forward to my trip to visit the churches of Southwestern Cebu.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cebu: Visita iglesia to Southern Cebu churches

The heritage of Southern Cebu is wonderful! That's why in pains me to see so much of it desecrated in recent years. Let me warn you that as I introduce the wonderful heritage of Southern Cebu, I'll be ranting because of some stupid priests and local officials who have succeeding in uglifying the churches and other old structures.

Southern Cebu's heritage trail usually begins in Oslob. But after the Oslob Church and convent burned down last year (obviously someone was negligent, leaving the convent in the wee hours of the morning; I wonder where father was when the church under his care burned down), we decided to start in Boljoon Church, a National Cultural Treasure and a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage if ever they do expand the inscription Baroque Churches of the Philippines.

Sadly, it was raining when we got there so I couldn't take good photos of the facade. But at least this time, the restoration work on the retablo and ceiling was complete so I was able to take photos. They are still in the process of restoring the choirloft and pipe organ. Boljoon is no doubt a wonderful example of how to preserve heritage the right way.

Our next stop was Dalaguete Church which I skipped the last time. Sadly, the parish priest was in the process of desecrating the old altar. Yes, this was heritage disaster number two for the day. He removed wooden altar panels and replaced it with a cheap and hideous marble structure which does not match the retablo. He also touched the centuries-old tiles in the altar. CBCP, where are you when we need you?

Aside from that, the rest of the church is intact and worth visiting. I hope it remains that way. These priests waste church money on useless projects that desecrate heritage, doing more harm than good, just so that they could leave their mark, no matter how ugly. Such funds could have been used for the pastoral mission of the church!

Anyway, we made our way to Argao, another sad story. The church and municipio comprise heritage disaster number three and four. The main altar of the Argao Church was desecrated by the monsignor of the church. What happened to Cardinal Vidal when his favorite monsignor converted the polychrome altar into the biggest trophy case in the Philippines? And he used latex paint on wood. So the damage is close to irreversible! Wonderful polychrome statues of the archangels were painted gold! Talk about Midas' touch!

The Argao Municipal Hall is another sad story. We even featured it in the HCS calendar as a wonderful example of a Spanish colonial town hall with its clay tile roof still intact. Well, it's now a disaster since they sandwiched it in between two new buildings and bored holes on both sides to connect the new buildings to the original municipio. Not only that, they built a balcony in front. My God! Where do these mayors get their "bright" ideas? Argao could have been a UNESCO World Heritage site I was told. That's impossible now!

Our last church for the day was Sibonga Church which I also skipped the last time. It's another wonderful church with ornate ceiling paintings. It doesn't have a retablo though.

Of course, we already visted Carcar Church in the morning. The Carcar Church is another heritage disaster. Sigh! The priest and parish pastoral council built ugly pedestals for the angels they took down. The parish priest had previously taken down the angels which adorned the columns of the church, sparking an outrage from the townsfolk. But aside from that, the rest of the church is intact and grand!

There are even more churches between Carcar and Cebu City. If you have time, you can pass by San Fernando, Naga, Minglanilla, Talisay and Pardo on the way back to Cebu City. My next target when I do visit Cebu again will be a visita iglesia in Western Cebu.

Part 1: Bantayan Island, Cebu is rich in heritage and great beaches!
Part 2: Visita iglesia in Northern Cebu
Part 3: Lechon, chicharon and more from Carcar

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Cebu: Heritage trail south of Cebu City

I'm finally back in the Queen City of the South after an afternoon spent in the southern half of Cebu Island. I left Manila at 7:30 a.m. via Philippine Airlines and arrived in Mactan about an hour and a half later. It's great looking down on a clear day since you see the very same attractions from a different view. When flying south, you can't miss Mount Makiling, Taal Lake and its volcano, the seven lakes of San Pablo and Mount Banahaw from the sky which you see in the photo.

My brod Ryan Caparas met up with me at the airport but since he had work today, I told him to drop me off at the South Bus Terminal so that I could spend the day following the Southern Heritage Trail. I decided to start at the southernmost town on the trail, Oslob, and work my way northwards back to Cebu City.

The trip was three hours so I took an air-conditioned bus so that it would be a comfortable ride. The fare was PHP108. I was asleep for most of the first part, obviously tired from driving the past few days, as well as from lack of sleep. But later on, I tried to keep myself awake or else I would miss one of the best coastline sceneries in the country. In fact, the entire national highway hugs the shoreline and you are offered spectacular views of white sand beaches and mangrove forests along the way.

I arrived in Oslob at about 12 noon and went straight to the church. Wow! The Immaculate Conception Church was a magnificent coral and limestone structure with ruins of some Spanish period government building at the side. After some photos, it was time for lunch. And like a true backpacker, I went for one of the carinderias (canteens) near the bus stop. An ulam (viand) and a heaping cup of rice costed me only PHP25.

It was off to the next town for me, Boljoon, home of the Church of the Patrocinio de Maria, declared by the National Museum as a national cultural treasure and by the National Historical Institute as a national historical landmark. The fare from Oslob on an ordinary bus was P11. Between Oslob and Boljoon were several watchtowers which are featured in Fr. Rene Javellana's book Fortress of Empire.

The setting of the church was stunning, an open view of the white sand beach and blue waters in front, and hills towering at the back. The roof of the church and convent are still the original clay tiles from the Spanish period.

When I entered, just like in Masinloc, there was ongoing restoration work. Again, good news for heritage. The convento was also very much intact. Thumbs up to the Boljoon Heritage Foundation!

I strongly believe this church should be included in the Baroque Churches of the Philippines UNESCO listing if ever it is expanded. Or better yet, create a new listing incorporating the best of southern Cebu's coral and limestone churches!

Just when I thought Cebu was doing everything right for church heritage, there was Argao. The fare to the place was P30. When I got there, I was impressed that the local government was blending the architecture of the new buildings with that of the old. The St. Michael the Archangel Church itself could have, on its own, been declared a World Heritage Site had it not been touched.

I was excited to enter since I've seen pictures of the interior in books. And did I get the shock of my life! The parish priest had converted the ornate polychrome rococo retablo into the country's biggest trophy case! Yes folks! He had the retablo painted gold and silver! The santos are all painted gold! What is wrong with our priests?! Don't they have anything better to do? People like him should be transferred to Siberia where they won't do any more damage to Philippine church heritage. But I guess that is a tall order because rumor has it that this monsignor is very close to the cardinal.

To let you know the sentiments of the heritage community, here is the column of Bambi Harper in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on the sacrilege committed. The entry is aptly entitled A Crying Shame. In another of her columns lauding Albay, Bambi writes, "Bishop Jose C. Sorra (of Albay) gave an impassioned and stirring address that the Cebu cardinal should have heard so that the parish priest of Argao, guilty of erasing 200 years of history, could be exiled to Burias or perhaps to the Marianas, which unfortunately doesn't belong to us anymore."

I was off to a very popular heritage town of the province of Cebu, Carcar! Fare from Argao to Carcar was PHP20. The first landmark you will see is that heritage gazeebo at the center of a rotunda in front of the market. That is where I got off to take some photos.

Carcar is also known for its chicharon (pork skin crackers) and lechon (roasted pig). So how could I resist even a small pack of chicharon for a snack! Yummy! Anyway, I'll talk more about Carcar in a future entry.

The Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria was just a short walk up a hill in the center of town. Indeed, the church and the structures around its plaza are splendid! While in Carcar, I visited the Noel Ancestral House owned by the family of Jerry N. Alfafara, a member of the Carcar Heritage Conservation Society. He gave me a tour around his house.

The last stop for the afternoon was Naga which had a very ornate facade. It seemed to have Moorish influences as seen from the elements of the design. From Carcar, the fare was PHP15. With that settled, it was back to Cebu City. Fare from Naga was PHP20.

If only I had my own vehicle, I would have wanted to stop to take photos of all the Gabaldon schoolhouses. In each town, I would believe there were at least three! But that is one of the limitations of backpacking. You have to travel within a tight budget.

Back in Cebu, I met up with Ryan near the bus station and we went to a well-known street food area of Cebu City called Larsian. Why it's called Larsian, I don't know since I tried asking the locals myself. The place is right beside the Osmena Circle (It's actually one of the side streets).

They serve various ihaw-ihaw (roasted) items such as chicken and pork barbeque, longganiza (local sausage), hotdogs, isaw manok (chicken intestines), etc. The rice was also unique since it was served in what seemed to be woven coconut leaf-containers just like suman (rice cake). The meal was not bad at all!

After Larsian, we looked for a place for me to stay for the night. One of the cheaper pension houses was fully-booked. I fear that since it is peak season, when I go to Bohol tomorrow, I might find it difficult to get lodging as well. Anyway, right now, I'll get some rest since I'm waking up early to visit the heritage area of Cebu City. Then I'll most probably leave for Bohol by lunch. That's it for now.

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